Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Simon Anders, Nov 1, 2008.
Q-interesting how much time you spend in the religion subforum, then.
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The thing is if we relativize things to the point of doubting whether the Absolute Truth can be put into words at all,
then this is an implicit rejection of rationality,
so what is the value of such a irrational analysis then?
It is a basic proposition in linguistics that every natural human language can be used to express everything; if words for something do not yet exist in a language, then they can be made by the rules of that language, or the concept in question described with already existing words.
Granted, this might look a bit clumsy sometimes, but it is not impossible; and is more an act of stringent analysis than of language itself.
1) given that absolute truth, if I have understood your posts in the past, would include not merely accuracy but would also involve helping a person come to the best allowable state - happiness, nirvana, reduced pain - and maintaining it, it seems impossible to me that a single text could do that for the diverse persons I encounter.
2) I am not sure how much information can be 'put in words'. I think the container metaphor is limiting and confusing. Words do things. And they do not do the same things to different people.
3) One can have a text that is rational for a particular person who makes use of it in rational ways. Perhaps even groups. But one text for everyone. I think this is impossible, even if this implies things that seem horrible.
4) If I must imagine that a text I encounter must be useful for everyone, and take into account how they will react and what that text will do with people quite different from me, I find that the text's burden is too great. I think this freezes me. I cannot move towards truth unless all can, or perhaps even 'do move' if the text must also be a motivator.
This makes one a kind of Mahayana Bodhisatva, but instead of waiting at the cusp of enlightenment (or whatever) one is at the starting gate, looking for a text that everyone can use as a first step.
You would have to give people experiences for them to use these words. That cliche names for all the types of snow in Inuit would be useless as paraphrases. That's perhaps too harsh...radically incomplete I would say. Languages build up along lines of experience.
Do you know of any text that reaches/is useful non-relatively? that all can use, or even most? (I mean one in this philosophical/religious context)
What methodologies do you use to find out how things work? Have you challenged these and if so, how?
It depends on what the texts says, right?
A text may contain information and instruction - those two combined have the potential to bring about a new reality.
Sure - within a limited time-frame, "words do different things to different people".
But if there is an Absolute Truth, and it is "put into words", then, when it is read, it will eventually "do the same thing to all people".
If it is a text containing the Absolute Truth, then it also motivates.
See about the great Eskimo vocabulary hoax:
Many of those snow names actually are paraphrases or derivative words. It turns out that their names for snow aren't really more complex than ours.
Granted, experience plays a part in how well a person can understand a concept - that is common. But it is also common that the average native speaker of a language uses and understands only a portion of the language, an most likely, they never use and understand all of it. For example, how many people to whom English is their native language know what "eschew" means? Within a language, there is already a potential existing that isn't used by all its speakers, or not at all. But we can hardly blame the language for being "insufficient" or "incomplete" when the fact is that its current and particular usages don't use that potential to its full.
I know of a candidate, yes. I am not yet 100% sure about it, so I can't disclose the name yet - it wouldn't be fair, if I am not 100% sure. But in the discussions I undertake here at the forums, I am testing myself in the understanding of it and what it purports. So far, it hasn't failed.
And pretty much every such text almost immediately turns off most people who encounter it. The sentence do not 'talk to them' or they cannot connect to them or they feel distaste or boredom in reaction to them or they do not understand them.
I consider this extremely unlikely. I do not think such a text exists. And a person or God who wants to reach all people, it seems to me, would have to use a variety of texts.
Then, again, I do not think there is one. It should be catching on like wildfire and disrupting other belief systems.
Beside the point. I could use expert language or even something so simple as the names of wildflowers that most people do not know.
I am not blaming languages. I am focusing on the practical problem of people who lack words can not simply be parphrased to understanding.
The failure would not be whether it works for you and fits things, but whether it reaches everyone and they also have that experience.
But let us, or me, know.
Well, yes. But is the text to be blamed?
... Or present them with said text at a time in their life when they are receptive to it.
Is it not catching on like wildfire and disrupting other belief systems?
I think it is.
Again, it depends on what the Absolute Truth is. Perhaps it can be adequately paraphrased so that even those who lack the understanding of particular words can understand it?
Whether they have that experience or not will also depend on whether they follow the instructions, or not.
According to my pedagogical ideas, yes. If it is claiming to be Absolute Truth it should have absolute communication functions. Otherwise we could have something like a perfect text that NO ONE understands and is drawn to. I taught you but you didn't learn is too old school for me. Sort of like 'I was the perfect husband for you so if you suffered it is your fault.'
meaning that all people would be receptive at some point in their lives. I am wholeheartedly skeptical, but, in the higher parts of my left brain, think it is honorable to admit that I cannot know it is impossible. I do await demonstrations.
. I don't know yet, now do I?
To me the real problem is that they will lack interest, motivation, the same goals.....and around this latter point, I suppose some incredibly complicated post-modern text with a wide variety of approaches might somehow be possible. I am not sure it would be 'one text' and in the end I am not sure we would call the various followers 'fo the same group'. But my skepticism is on the table....
Oh, God, I hope you don't mean materialist capitalism......
How could anyone resist perfection?
I immediately think of a saleman telling me he has a tie every man will love if he follows the instructions.
Such approaches can be an abuse of free will, but only possible if the Absolute Truth is comprehended on the level of a "teenager with anger issues" or the like, or if the Absolute Truth actually is on the level of a "teenager with anger issues".
"I taught you but you didn't learn" might actually be a truthful assessment of a situation, or it might be a self-defense of an inept and uncaring teacher. Similar with the example of the husband.
Given the usual experience we have with people's pride/vanity and cruelty, I understand your skepticism about the notion of there being an Absolute Truth and possible to express in words, in a relatively short form (e.g. a book).
Easily. Perfection, certainty, absolute, these are concepts without referant in reality. Trying to look for actual perfection is an error of kind and a great source of suffering.
I think you need to read that sentence in context. I was responding to the notion of a text that is or contains absolute truth - not my assertion - and in that context asking how such a thing - ie. an objectively perfect thing, since that is the assertion - could be resisted.
If you are scanning my posts for 'errors' please take into account the context.
so everyone on earth 'could' read this text, find it accessible and it would work for them - bring them toward where they want to be, if only they tried?
I actually think it can never be an accurate assessment. I offered you an opportunity, perhaps. But teach is a verb that includes both teacher and student. It is a dynamic relationship. I cannot teach you when you are asleep, for example. I was not teaching, I was talking to no one, really. I think to me this difference we have here is around the nature of truth. To me it is in relationship and cannot be contained - ie. in a text. Not universally.
I get your point about pride/vanity and I agree. But I also do not think everyone wants the same things. And by things I include processes like how one relates to others, to the world, to things, to themselves.
I used to think we did, but I don't any more. I feel there might be some way out: iow the text is at a level of abstraction that somehow allows for these differences, but I remain skeptical. I am still curious about which text you think does this.
It depends on what we think the "self" is. If we posit that all living beings are in some crucial way the same, then the variety of what each of them truly wants diminishes greatly.
Yes, this is quite it. I do understand your skepticism, though.
I apologize, I can't say that yet. I still need to check and test some propositions.
There's the rub.
I assumed that, but good to hear it anyway.
Yes, I picked that up, hence my wording.
For me it seems the next step must be the concrete, so I'll await the text.
Separate names with a comma.